How Can I Fix Plated Jewelry?
Written by Annabelle
October 18, 2018
You’re twisting your favorite ring around your finger, and you notice a gleam out of the corner of your eye…the gleam of the metal that’s not the same color as the rest of your ring. Wearing out plated jewelry has become a common issue among jewelry lovers, but fortunately it’s not a difficult problem to fix! Read more to learn how to restore plated jewelry.
What is plated jewelry?
Plated jewelry is jewelry made from a cheaper base metal that’s coated with a layer of precious metal or alloy. It is significantly more affordable for most people to buy plated jewelry instead of solid pieces, so a lot of jewelry on the market will have some kind of plating in order to achieve a desired look such as rose gold.
When the plating eventually wears off, the base metal becomes visible. In order to fix it, jewelers will use a process known as electroplating to restore your item to its original color.
What is Electroplating?
Jewelry can be manipulated into various colors via two primary methods, electroplating and enameling. The two differ drastically in terms of process and materials used, which is why it’s important to make a distinction when you’re looking to repair your jewelry.
Electroplating is the process of giving a piece of jewelry a metal coating via electrical currents. The item is placed into a solution containing the metal, and the current causes a reaction that binds the metal to the surface of the item. The process does not affect gems that are set in the piece. Electroplating can be done with a number of metals and alloys; the most popular ones used are gold, silver, and rhodium.
- Gold electroplating: Normally used to touch up gold-plated jewelry or give silver jewelry a new gold appearance.
- Rose gold plating: A thin layer of rose gold is placed over the piece of jewelry in order to give it color. Aside from this aesthetic change it doesn't have any other benefits, unlike rhodium.
- Silver plating: This additional coat of silver is commonly used for costume jewelry, since the base metal is usually an inexpensive metal such as copper.
- Rhodium plating: Rhodium is a durable and beautiful silvery metal that is used to enhance the appearance of sterling silver or white gold. The coating can protect the item until it wears off from daily use.
How does my plated jewelry wear out?
Daily use is the most obvious answer, but the period of time it takes to wear down jewelry plating also depends on the metal and the thickness of the plating. When plating jewelry, jewelers often refer to the unit of thickness as a micron, or 0.0001 of a millimeter. The less microns used to plate an item, the thinner the plating, and the easier it is to wear down the plating. Rings are much more prone to losing plating than pendants or earrings, because your hands come into contact with many things during the day.
How can I fix my plated jewelry?
Simply put in a request with a jeweler! If you want to restore the original color of your item, just let them know and they’ll be able to replate the piece for you. If you want the plating to last longer, you can request for them to plate according to a certain number of microns. The standard is at least 1 micron for jewelry and 40 microns for watches.
If you want to change the color of your jewelry, you can ask the jeweler about switching colors with yellow gold, rose gold, or rhodium plating. Rhodium is a metal that is corrosion-resistant and has a silvery appearance. It’s commonly used to coat sterling silver or white gold to prevent tarnish and scratches.
Now that you know a little more about the process of plating, let us know in the comments or form if you interested in fixing up your tarnished or worn jewelry. Also be sure to check out our electroplating service to clean up your favorite pieces today!